Statement on the occasion of the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (4-8 August 2017)
Amidst the euphoria of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) celebrating the association’s 50th anniversary, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus denounces the continued exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people in Southeast Asia and calls on ASEAN to promote the human rights of LGBTIQ persons.
50 years on, member-states remain either outright hostile to the human rights of LGBTIQ people, or are hesitant to address them in fear of transgressing so-called “cultural sensitivities”. Though there have been some positive developments– specifically the inclusion of LGBT children as a “vulnerable group” in its regional Plan of Action on Elimination of Violence Against Children – these developments are few and far-between. And while ASEAN continue to debate whether to discuss these issues, violence and discrimination against LGBTIQ people continue to be perpetuated at all levels of social, cultural, and political life.
In 2017 alone, cases of violence against LGBTIQ persons in the region have increased dramatically. In Indonesia, two gay men were publicly caned in the province of Aceh on the basis of their same-sex relationship. At the same time, there is an attempt to criminalize LGBTIQ people in the country through a revision of the criminal code. In Malaysia, increasing hate crime of trans women, state sponsored/funded anti-LGBTIQ activities, especially that promote rehabilitation of LGBT persons perpetuates stigma against the community. In Thailand, Buku Books, an organization for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women, were recipients of explicit threats of violence for “spreading lesbianism” among the youth. Elsewhere, LGBTIQ people are used as political scapegoats and the violent denouncement of LGBTIQ people is used as a means of consolidating popular support.
Standing with other peoples in Southeast Asia who have been similarly pushed into the margins of the agendas of governments, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus wishes to make clear that fifty years of exclusion is no longer acceptable. The human rights of LGBTIQ persons must be upheld just as the human rights of every person in Southeast Asia must be upheld, as enshrined in the Universal Human Rights Declaration and the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Likewise, as ASEAN member-states have ratified human rights treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), they are also legally-bound to address sexual orientation and gender identity as recognized in these conventions.
As an association that claims one identity and one vision, ASEAN must include every person at the heart of its agenda, without prejudice.
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